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Dental Practice Marketing - Sell Anything to Anyone

Jul 16, 2008
At the fundamental level, the focus of any marketing program is to motivate people to take action.

In marketing, many times we get lost in the details. Demographics, saturations, market-consciousness, and network-awareness cloud our conversations and take away from what is truly important.

We could talk all day about generation marketing, web-based sales principles, or the four fundamental P's of marketing... but at the core level, what are we trying to do?

We try to motivate people to take action.

That's it, it's that simple, no big words, no trade-secrets. Motivating people is our goal.

So we can discuss psychological profiles and aesthetic visuals until we turn blue in the face, but if you can't simply motivate a person to take a desired action, your marketing has failed.

This brings us to the "how" of motivating people. This is the easiest part. There are only three things that will motivate a person to take action: fear, incentive, and love.

Once again, that's it. It doesn't take 10 years of schooling to learn, or even to understand that everything we do is motivated by those three words.

I'm going to take these factors one by one and tell you how to use them to motivate your team, your patients, and yes, even the community to take action.

1. Fear.

When FDR proclaimed "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!" He hit the nail on the head.

Take spiders for example. Nobody is motivated by a spider. People are motivated by a fear of spiders. For some it simply makes them stomp their foot on the ground to kill it. For others, the fear makes them scream, run away, and have shortness of breath.

Did the spider make them do that? No, their fear of the spider caused them to do that.

I'll give another example. A movie used in driver's education called "Red Asphalt." It has been around for a while and shows some graphic pictures (blood and brains) of auto accidents. The fear of death is a powerful motivator.

Fear, however, can work both ways. A couple of months ago, after an e-coli scare, Taco Bell sales figures dropped 40% because people had a fear of getting sick.

In your practice you help solve many fears. One is the fear of pain. You can prevent pain, and keep your patients from experiencing pain. This should be used in marketing and presentations.

Also, you can solve the fear of not being accepted. Making people look visually pleasing can help them be more outgoing and accepted in their social circles. It is a fear shared by everyone, and you should be using it to your advantage.

Notice I said prevent pain, and not heal pain. Healing pain falls under the next category.

2. Incentive.

Before we discuss incentive, we must discuss the two types of reinforcements.

Positive reinforcement is the one we think of most. For responding correctly, you will get an incentive. Clean your room...get a candy bar.

Negative reinforcement sometimes gets confused with punishment, which is a fear. Negative reinforcement is the removal of a negative condition. An example is a patient that has mouth pain. Their incentive is a removal of the pain.

Negative reinforcement is a more effective way to incentive-ize someone because they are already experiencing the negative effect. If someone comes to you with pain, they are hoping you can stop the pain. They have a need already.

Positive reinforcement includes things like discounts or special offers or free products. These "incentives" are effective, but force the person to take action to receive the incentive. In this case, a person must value the incentive more than they value the effort it takes to respond.

Healing pain is an incentive. As a Doctor, you have already conveyed this incentive to your prospects.

Creating incentives, like discounts and free offers, are a good way to motivate people to respond. Remember, the value of the offer or giveaway needs to outweigh the work it takes to respond.

If a person doesn't have pain, you don't offer incentives, and they don't fear losing their teeth, there is only one way you have to motivate them.

3. Love.

Love is by far the best, strongest, and most long lasting motivator of the three.

We hear the story every now and then of a 120 pound mother picking up a 2 ton car to free her infant son. That's love. Sometimes it is unexplainable how it works, but it works.

Love is also the reason women are the most influential shoppers. Go to a mall sometime and stand by a shoe store. Listen to the amount of women who say "I love those!" That's power right there.

Love is a strong word, and a strong feeling. Some love is natural, but other love must be planted, and nurtured like a seed.

You need to make your current patients love you. This love can be created many ways; through communications (personal, newsletters, phone calls, e-mail), through great technical work, or through great customer service.

If you do this correctly, your patients will be yours for life. Why? Simply because they love your practice.

With the general public, it is hard to convey your love for them. The easiest way is to do everything you can for your current patients so they can convey their love for you to their friends and family.

Referrals are based on love. If someone loves how you treat them, and loves the attention they get in your office, they will refer.

That's it. Those three items are the reasons for everything that happens in human nature. No demographics or parameters needed. Every human being functions on those three motivators.

Basically I have given you the three most powerful words in marketing, if not business and the world. The above words have done everything from sell a shirt to start World Wars and everything in between.

Use these words as concepts for your marketing, and make sure you push these three buttons with anyone and everyone you market to.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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